Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year (and a shameless endorsement!)

Why is this woman so surprised?

She's just unwrapped a gift from one of her children: A kitchen towel set wrapped around a book by one of her talented blog friends! And that's not all ...

I unwrapped another ...

and another!

The first book is a compilation of comic strips by my blog friend jugglingpaynes (Cristina) and her book is available on Amazon. I was intending to make the purchase after Christmas but my husband beat me to it ... and completely caught me off guard! This is Cristina's first book but she has been writing for a long time, homeschooling is the theme and, boy, can I relate to so many of her ideas!

The second and third books shown are by Paula Vince, my published author blog friend in Australia. Her books are available through her web site appleleaf (at left). I have all of her books now, I think, and am so happy Todd thought to order them for me. Her books are thoughtfully written and take the reader right into the story and the fictional characters. When I read one of her books, I don't want it to end!

I am so excited and proud of these two awesome women and wish them great success in their respective fields of talent. This is not a paid advertisement - I just wanted to share my joy. Thank you, Cristina and Paula, for helping my Christmas to be all the more blessed!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Chad had his final exam, came home and promptly came down with a cold. He was kind enough to pass it on to his siblings a few days later. We lost a whole week there but we are back on tract, my shopping is done and I'm determined to mail out cards this Monday. Oh, Chad passed his class with an 'A' and if I sound impressed, relieved and proud, I am. This being his first college class, his first class ever, he's only 16 and he didn't do any extra credit - we really didn't know how he'd do. But I am proud of him, unashamedly. He never missed a class, participated in discussion and turned in all assignments on time. Wrote his first essay ever and got a good grade which gave him confidence to do all the rest. Now, he'll take the winter term of this history class but, unfortunately, it is being phased out in spring. We are all so glad for him.

I got a wake up call a few days ago. I drive to a tiny little town across the river in Washington twice a week, taking Chad to his volunteer job at a museum. Yes, I do speed some of the time, the highway takes us through a lot of field/farm land with mostly tourists driving along the coast. Last Thursday, I happened to be driving alone to pick him up and I wasn't paying attention to my speed. I was actually listening to a Christmas song on the radio, trying to figure out if it was Bobby Darin singing. There was no one on the highway in front or behind me but I rounded a corner and of the two cars that passed me, one was a highway patrol. Lights flashed. I slowed down to see if he'd turn around and he did. As he came up behind me, I pulled off as best I could (there was a hill to my right). I didn't panic like I have in the past. I just looked wide-eyed as a young officer (trooper hat and all) approached and asked if I knew how fast I was going. Just then, a pick up truck whoosed past, way too close to the officer. I pointed to the truck and said, "Not THAT fast!" He asked if I knew the speed limit there, I said 50-55 (I wasn't that certain, the speed changes several times on this route. When he told me I was doing 63 in a 50 zone, I was surprised and apologized. He asked if I was just not paying attention and I told him the truth - that I was "listening to the radio, trying to figure out if it was Bobby Darin or not". He didn't laugh but I'll bet he wanted to. He asked for my license and proof of insurance. I had my license, of course, but my proof of insurance was expired last month - I did, however, have my husband's car's proof of insurance and it was still good and on the same policy. I knew I had put my new card in my car but couldn't find it. Anyway, while I was looking for the right card, the officer watched another car speed past and said, "That driver has a suspended license. I'm going to let you go but I want you to be more careful." I said I would and thanked him for his compassion. He took off and I let out a big sigh. Mercy. Thank you, Lord.

I'm doing my best to obey the speed limit, all the time now. God has been merciful to me twice. When we first bought my Prius, I got stopped by an officer on the drive home from the dealer (50 miles from our home) because I was speeding, trying to keep up with Todd who was in his car ahead of me. At that time, I explained to the officer I was trying to keep up with my husband (it was nighttime). She let me go with a stern warning to be more careful. That was 3 years ago. I never want to be pulled over again - and I want to be a better example to my children. I'm so glad they weren't with me last Thursday, they usually are. God is good.

We've had Advent nearly every night with nearly perfect attendance. Some nights we dissolve into laughter, with our own personal versions of certain Christmas carols. Sometimes we sing a carol with another carol's tune. A few times have ended with disciplinarian actions. But most of the time it's been very enjoyable and everyone has fun and the Bible reading time is special. We add the fourth candle tomorrow night. Carmen has been the most interested in Advent, reminding us when we were about to forget and making sure when we need to add the next candle. She wants all the songs sung the right way, etc. I love how much interest she's taking in Advent. It wasn't always like that.

If I do not post before Christmas, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I really appreciate those of you who still visit, even though I blog so infrequently. You are and have been my friends for quite some time now and I really appreciate each of you. Have a wonderful Christmas season and Happy New Year! God bless!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Season Begins

Our tree is up, we've done quite a bit of Christmas shopping, a great start to the season. Todd's 10-hour days finally caught up to him at Thanksgiving, keeping him on the couch for several days. He finally returned to work on Wednesday but not before the bosses got a taste of just how much work he does and how many people it takes to do his job when he's not there. They survived and he's back to normal, I think. He's needed an assistant for, like, months but the powers that be don't feel it necessary at this point. Humph!

Since Todd wasn't up to decorating, the kids did just about everything. Chad put up the tree and lights himself, Alec and Carmen helped him with the ornaments and the household decor. They did a terrific job! We still have some lights and rearranging to do, seems like this year is more relaxed than in the past. We started Advent, and I'm so glad to see all the kids still enjoy this special time of singing and reading from the Bible. I love my kids.

I have returned to my natural brunette - time for a change. It was hard to get used to at first but the kids are definitely happier about it. It's just hair for goodness sake!

I hope this Christmas season is a good one for everyone out there!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Watch Your Back

It's that time of year (again) ... cooler days, more rain, occasional gusts of wind and - the always unsettling sound of not-so-distant gunfire. Those lovely deer we've been walking among all summer are being hunted down like, well, animals. At first it was just on weekend mornings, starting about 7:00 a.m. And if it's raining, oddly enough, more shots can be heard. Now, it can be any day, any time. The hunters go out whenever they can, apparently. Sometimes it sounds like they are in the forest just 3 doors down but Todd says they are about 2-3 miles away. That's still too close for my city-girl standards.

When we were out and about on Monday, we saw deer all over town, apparently flushed out of the forest. Last night, Todd and I were on our way back from Home Depot when we saw deer out on the highway, most unusual but understandable, considering they are being pursued. They are so sweet. Yes, they are in abundance this year, it seems, but I still can't feel right about the whole hunting thing. I never will.

However, I would prefer animal hunting to people hunting. My son was walking home from college last week when he stopped to read the front page news of our local paper (it's sold at a stand that he passes on his way home.) Apparently, some stupid high school kid here in our town was plotting a murder at the high school and had asked another student to help him. Fortunately, this second student informed the authorities who arrested the first student and he's now in the youth detention center. Chad was quite shaken up by this news. Having the local high school be just down the hill from our home didn't help matters. I'm so thankful this terrible thing was stopped short. I'm extremely thankful I homeschool my kids. Sigh.

Can anything good come from the use of a gun?

(My apologies to those of you who enjoy hunting - this is, after all, my blog and my opinions!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recent Technology

Chad just submitted his first essay to his college class. He was required to email it to the teacher. The teacher liked it but the issue was with its format. The teacher wanted it in a format we do not have on our computer. I could not help thinking that if Chad was to type it out (double-spaced, of course) on paper and submit it, there would be no problem. Instead, we had to buy some hardware to meet the needs of the teacher. Sometimes, technology can be a nuisance (and, more often than we realize, I'm thinking). On the flip side, I was the one who walked into the office supply store and asked for help to buy the flash drive we needed. I'm proud of myself for remembering what to ask for, even if I had no idea where it was or what it looked like. I am techless and don't mind asking for help. I even got a storage card for my new phone-camera. Aren't you impressed?

Todd has been hankering to buy a larger TV than we've been watching for the duration of our marriage (23+ years). When we married, I contributed my 13" that I bought with the insurance money I received after a burglar broke into my home and stole my brand new TV (before I ever met Todd). That really ticked me off, I had bought that first TV on a Wednesday and we (my sister and I) were robbed a few days later. At least I got compensated the full purchase price! Anyway, I have always been happy with a 13" TV. Todd put up with it as long as he could stand, until last weekend. He found a 26" screen TV on sale and I reluctantly agreed. It's way too big for me but I guess it's my turn to be tolerant. I have never liked the big screen, either in theatres or in private homes. We have distant friends whose TV is practically life-sized. Makes me uncomfortable to have basketball players standing right next to me on the screen. I suppose the smaller screen seems more intimate to me but Todd is happy which makes me happy.

Chad recently bought a DVD with a huge collection of old Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows. They date back to the 1930's and 40's. Basil Rathbone (from the 40's) is amazing to watch. Face it ... when we think of Sherlock Holmes, it's his face we picture. My opinion, anyway!

After about 1-1/2 weeks of nice walking weather, we are back to rain and wind. So goes October. I just read it's supposed to be wetter than usual in the Pacific Northwest this winter. I'd like to know what they mean by "usual"?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Fall is here. Rain. Wind. Cold mornings and evenings. Sigh.

On the flip side, I find I am tired of my summer clothes anyway but nothing looks cozy enough to wear right now. Not a dilemma or anything, just an observation. Which brings me to the subject of boots.

They are EVERYWHERE! At the college, girls are wearing rubber boots with pants tucked in. In town, it's a free-for-all. Minis with tights, jeans with furry boots, long hippy skirts with cowboy boots. Then there are the women who really shouldn't be wearing boots (for one reason or another). They wear them with short skirts, with or without leg coverings. Our town has a shortage of boot-worthy women and it's hard not to pass judgment on the rest of the female population. On the other hand, more power to them for wearing boots because they want to, brave souls.

I like boots. I have two pair. Make that three, if you count the short black boots I've been wearing for most of Carmen's life. Fortunately, they are still in style. My husband wants me to get, oh, perhaps five more. He keeps looking online and in catalogs for me. I imagine one of these days I'll get a pair with fur lining for the warmth but not the stiletto heel. And I should probably get a pair before I stop feeling brave enough to be boot-worthy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time For School

We spent the entire week, last week, getting Chad into a college class. After finding the math instructor to sign Chad's petition (insuring that my son is not a physical threat to the class - seriously, that's what it said!!), we went into the office to pay for the class. Then the admission's person said, "Did you know there's a waiting list for this class?" She then proceeded to tell us this was a limited-seating class due to the amount of computers available. All the work is done on the computer, using the ALEKS program. As a homeschooler, I am familiar with this program though I've never used it. She then said how the college felt this was a better way for a student learn, at their own pace with the program providing the correcting, tutoring, etc. The instructor would be available if he was needed. I laughed a little and said, "That sounds like homeschooling." She said nothing, apparently she was not amused. So, we put him on the list (3rd) and went home. I stressed and fretted, just feeling this wasn't right. I mean, couldn't we just sign up for this program ourselves and skip the $400 tuition, since it was self-directed? Why send my son to college just to be self-directed by a computer?! After much prayer, I talked it over with Todd and, to my relief, he agreed. We took Chad off the waiting list and proceeded to look for a class that he would be more interested in and would fit his schedule. We found it in an ancient history course. Getting down to the wire, we finally met up with the instructor, he signed a new petition (since Chad is under 18, this petition is necessary) and he personally walked us over to admissions. Nice of him. We ordered the books online and they arrived today. Also last week, we had to get Chad an identification card. We considered getting his learner's permit instead (the I.D. was $40 versus only $10 for the permit!) but since he's not enrolled in a school, he couldn't get the permit. I was aghast! I really have no desire to go crawling to the school board for permission for my son to learn to drive! We could have waited until this week and gotten enrollment proof from the college but Chad decided he wasn't ready to learn to drive. He's been a bit dazzled by all the new turns his life has taken. After preparing him as much as I thought I should, I dropped him off last Monday for his first day of class. It was a terribly windy, stormy day. Students were running everywhere. It took him a few moments to open the car door. We had prayed in the driveway before leaving so I just told him it was going to be fine. He could do it. He sighed and said, "O.k." He shut the door and started the long, long climb of stairs that lead to the hall door. Even in the pouring rain, he turned around midway and waved, smiling. I won't soon forget that. I drove downtown to buy bread but not before I cried. Can't help feeling like I've just thrown my son to the wolves but it's not that bad, I know. An hour later, I picked him up. His eyes were glazed. I couldn't get much out of him so we stopped by the side of the road before we got home. He cried a bit and we talked about how he was feeling. What it all amounted to was nerves, youth, and feeling overwhelmed. No surprise there! He was concerned about the workload the class would take. We got home and who should show up unexpectedly? Todd! The only college student in our home and God arranged for him to stop by the house on his way back to the office from the hospital. Chad showed Todd his class syllabus and Todd explained it to him. They talked about some other issues and by the time Todd left, Chad was smiling. As we waved goodbye to Todd, Chad quietly said, "I'm glad he stopped by." God is so good.

So, that was Monday. We also started our homeschool on the same day. It went well. We started a program on logic which all the kids enjoyed. After attending the second day of college today, Chad walked home and was smiling. Apparently, even though he wasn't able to do the reading required (his books didn't arrived until later today) he was able to participate in the class discussion, based on his current knowledge! Cool, huh? He has decided to stay with the class and I am very glad. The credits for this class will count toward a degree once he turns 18. God answered my prayers.

Yesterday, Chad and I went to the museum he volunteers at for a special tour of the new facility that was built to house their archives of Northwest information. Chad very proudly showed me around, where he works and what he's done. All the volunteers he works with were very complimentary of him. I was very glad to be there, we had fun and I was proud of him. (Is there another word I can use in place of "very"?)

Last Friday at Todd's office they held the blessing for the facility. The heart clinic Todd works for is part of a huge Catholic hospital organization and it's their tradition to bless the new facilities and the workers. It was really beautiful and I met so many nice people that are part of the administration. Todd's office just has 3 employees but many people came to support them. Todd had a part to speak and after several people spoke, there was a prayer and then a priest sprinkled everyone with water he had blessed. I didn't mind being sprinkled but for some reason I instinctively ducked! It is so nice that Todd is part of an organization that cares about the compassionate part of healthcare and desires God's presence and blessing. I felt God there that day. It was really special. My kids were so well-behaved, Chad was Mr. Social, I didn't see him much as he made the rounds. The doctor Todd works for spent time talking to me about Todd which I thought was so nice of him, since we had not really spoken much prior to this day. He also expressed his concern about the long hours Todd works most days and said he would try to help with that. I also heard many good words about Todd from the administrators which made my heart swell. I was really proud of my husband and my kids.

Today was probably the least busiest day I've had in about 2 weeks and it was beautiful here. I napped in the sun on our deck this afternoon. Oh, and that ALEKS math program? Through a homeschool offer, I signed up for a free 2-month trial and if I choose, I'll pay $99.00 for a 6 month subscription. Chad started it today - at home.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Train Pain

Today we stumbled upon a group in our small town who are working to restore a steam engine train that was built and operated in the 1920's. Amazing to see such a thing up close and think about what it must have been like when it was in operation, a modern marvel in its day. My sons got to ring the bell and work the (loud) whistle. We even ducked underneath and into the boiler area, getting a firsthand look at the restoration process (no, it wasn't boiling).

All was well until I ducked back out from underneath the boiler area. I vaguely heard our guide say something about being careful not to hit my head, when I started to stand back up ...

WHAM! For a moment, I thought someone had hit me over the head with something. Stunned, I fell to the ground, holding the top of my head. Looking up, I saw several faces looking down, one of them my husband's. In tears and pain, woozy and embarrassed for me, my family and our guide, I reached out for Todd. He tried to stand me up but I found it difficult. I apologized to our guide, saying it wasn't his fault; I tend to run into things. My white pants were filthy (we were in a large warehouse-type building filled with all kinds of greasy stuff.) Todd led me out of the shop and into the car. I was holding my head as the bump grew larger. I couldn't believe what had just happened.

Hard not to be scared at times like these. Fortunately, I hit my head on the hardest part, the top, and there was no blood evident. But, man, did it hurt! At home, with an ice pack on my head and snug in my recliner, I kept reliving the incident. It took several hours of rest to recover. Every time I hear the word "train", I shudder. Washing my hair tonight will be interesting.

Lesson learned: I'm a klutz. Class dismissed.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Edenton Family History

I've spent some time recently trying to learn more about my father's parents. My father was born in the old historic town of Edenton, North Carolina in 1930. Anyone who would know about my grandparents is gone now so I've tried searching some of the genealogy websites, garnering very little info. Time keeps me from researching as often as I'd like. My grandfather, William M Morris, was in WWI, was gassed during the war which resulted in some sort of paralysis in the form of a stroke or something. He was bedridden but I don't know at what point this happened. He did suffer depression from being unable to support his family and, when my father was 9, my grandfather somehow got hold of his gun and shot himself in the head. Writing this down for the first time makes me very sad. How he got the gun has never been known since the kids were always told not to give it to him for any reason. My father never talked much about this. I don't remember when I first heard about it. All my father would say was that people in town said "the son would do as the father would" (his actual words). I hate that kind of nonsense. My father didn't suffer depression, however, and when he'd say this, I always reminded him that he wasn't his father nor did he live like his father. Looking back now, it could have been scary, hearing my father say this. But, really, my grandfather had a good reason to be depressed. All I know about him was that he was a strict disciplinarian. A big man with red hair. Looked exactly like my Uncle William, Dad's older brother. My dad looked like his mother, Mary Ann Nixon. Nixon is a prominent name in Edenton, the Nixon family going back to at least the early 1800's. There is a Nixon cemetery, which I remember visiting once. From what I've gathered, my grandmother worked in a chicken factory, cutting up chicken, to support the family. I've also heard that she took in laundry and ironing. I know the kids also worked in various jobs to help out. My grandmother was a funny, warm, sweet lady who loved telling stories (just like my father and my son, Chad). If only I could get the three of them in a room together! I like thinking that my grandmother and my father are in heaven, telling stories and laughing. Anyway, my grandmother never saw me. She went blind in the late 1950's, but continued to live in the house she and her husband moved into when they were married. Being blind didn't stop her from cleaning her two story Victorian home on Broad Street. I remember seeing her wipe each step with a white cloth, one at a time, carefully backing down the stairs as she went. Her Venetian blinds were never dusty. I miss her.

My grandparents had three children, William, Mary and George Edward, my dad. When we would visit, everyone would call him, "Eddie" and I was always confused. These people are all gone now. William's wife is still living (in Texas) but I do not know her; however, she or her children may have some info. There's a source I didn't think about.

Anyway, I grew up hearing about the Chowan Herald, the weekly Edenton newspaper. I decided to call the paper and see if they had any info on my grandfather's death, since there must have been a police report or news item about it. Suicide is usually news, especially in a small town. This paper was established in 1934. I found the phone number and called the paper yesterday morning. I began talking to the lady who answered and told my story fairly quickly. She was quiet for a moment and then said, "I know about this. My mother told me. She knew your grandmother and on the day your grandfather died, she went over to the house and helped your grandmother." I was stunned. I almost didn't believe her but then she said, "I remember where your grandmother's house was - it's not there anymore." Since I knew this was true, I had no reason not to believe her. We talked for 20 minutes. She said that her brother was born in 1934 and might have known my dad. I asked if I could call again sometime, since I'd love to hear more, if there is more. Amazing! Talk about small town! My husband said, "Oh, it's just you and your coincidences." I guess so. I called my Mom and she was also stunned. Then she cried.

I wish I could go back there and do some research. I called the police department and when I told the lady on the phone I wanted some info about a suicide that happened in 1939, she declared, "Oh, Lord!" I almost laughed because she sounded just like my Aunt Mary, the NC accent and all. She tried to help me but was unable. At the Chowan Herald, there is a very old, decrepit book of records that no one is allowed to touch. It's too bad they can't somehow preserve it but maybe someday. This has been interesting and I've only begun, however, it will have to be put aside for now until I have more time to pursue it. I only wish I hadn't waited so long.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Blue Ribbon Week

A busy week! Todd's birthday at the end of July. Then the county fair began a few days after. My daughter entered two drawings this year and did smashingly well! None of us have participated in the fair before so this was a new experience for us. Carmen entered a black line drawing of a baby bunny hiding in grass and a colored pencil drawing of a grasshopper on a mushroom. We went to the fair on the first day (Tuesday) and looked for Carmen's drawings in the Exhibit Hall. We found the mushroom and were thrilled to see she had won first place (youth division, category "Other".) Then we looked for the bunny ... and were amazed to see 3 ribbons hanging on it! She won first place (youth division, category "Animal"), then Champion and Reserve Grand Champion. Which means she won first place of all the pen/pencil/ink drawings entered, including adult entries. Boy, were we happy for her! She also won a special prize given to "New Youth Exhibitor". Who knew? Now my sons are wishing they had participated and are planning what they can enter next year. Carmen received a lot of compliments on her artwork and she handled it with quiet grace. Makes me a proud Mom all around but mostly because of her sweet attitude.

Todd and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary last Saturday. We didn't have definite plans but we had a fun day. We brought home lunch from a nice place in town along the river so we could share with the kids. This place also sells ice cream and they had a flavor that I recently discovered I like but I decided not to buy any on this day. After lunch, I was wishing I had gotten the ice cream but I didn't tell Todd. Later, Todd and I went for a LONG walk, all the way into town and in and out of some antique stores and a favorite art gallery and a shoe store. When we left the shoe store, Todd turned toward the river instead of toward home. I asked where he was going and he said, "I thought we'd get that ice cream you wanted earlier!" That's what 23 years of marriage should do ... enable your spouse to read your mind! I was so shocked and pleased - it was the best ice cream I think I've ever had, since it was given with love!

We walked home and decided to make pizza for dinner. Todd volunteered to run to the store for mushrooms while I started preparing the meal. He returned home, leaning in the door with a big grin and a dozen white roses! He really knows what makes me happy! After dinner (with apple pie for dessert!) he and I drove up to the tallest hill in Astoria to watch the sunset. It almost felt like years ago, before we got married. We talked about things we would have done differently back then, in hindsight. Like getting married sooner than we did (we had a 9 month engagement, far too long for us). But it doesn't matter now, all our history has brought us to this point. Lessons learned and paths taken have created the marriage we now have. We both feel blessed to have each other.

It was a lovely, lovely day!

Next post ... Enrolling Chad in a college class. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweet 16

My oldest turned 16 yesterday. Pretty amazing. I'm feeling all the usual cliches (where did the time go, etc.) We are so blessed, he is such a great kid. I think he's enjoyed this birthday since we stretched it out into three different days. With Todd and Todd's mom all having birthdays near Chad's, we celebrated last Saturday at my in-laws and last week, we went to Portland for the day, took in the zoo (he's an animal enthusiast) and had fun. Yesterday was cake and gifts, though one of his gifts still hasn't arrived. Chad has always been easygoing about getting gifts and always, always appreciates whatever he is given. I love that about him. I remember one year, at Christmas, we got him a Playmobil pirate ship and the kid cried, he was so happy! I think he was 7 or so. He just couldn't believe we actually got it for him. It was precious and, fortunately, we got it on film.

I don't know what God has in store for this child but I do know he has a good head on his shoulders. My prayer is that Todd and I will do all we can to guide him and prepare him for his future.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Update

So far, my summer has been about lousy weather, being blonde and liking it, and various medical appointments. Since being diagnosed with osteoporosis last month, I have been focusing on my own health and maintenance. Getting more exercise, more calcium, trying to be more committed to using weights, have all taken up my time. Not to mention my mental health. My mother was diagnosed in her 60's so it's no surprise that I have it, though I wish it had waited a decade or more. On the other hand, I can do more to help myself now than later in life. Fortunately, my doc doesn't want me to take medication right now and I agree. I am not convinced the current meds out there are worth the risks that they carry. I am also over being depressed by this (well, almost). Being proactive feels better than wallowing in a sea of tears (ask Todd, he'll agree!) And get this ... being thin is actually a mark AGAINST me! Isn't that a rotten blow?!! Not enough weight to make my bones work harder. God, it's not fair!! (I know, who ever said life is fair.) That's where building muscle comes into play, if I can do it. Muscle is heavier, therefore, it might help my bones. O.k., enough about me.

My darling daughter has now joined the eye glass club in our home. She's actually very excited to be getting glasses as she has been complaining of not seeing so well far away. She chose a cute lavender pair that should be here next week. She does look adorable in them - wish I could wear them!

My oldest son was asked by a neighbor to feed their cats and mow their lawn while they are away in Alaska fishing. This is a fishing town and it's all too common for men to head off to Alaska for weeks/months. Sounds like fun, right? Anyway, Chad has been doing a great job of looking after the place and will be paid when this neighbor returns. His first paying job - cool! Hopefully, the catch will be plentiful as I'm sure Chad's pay will depend on how much they haul in.

Alec has suddenly become as tall as his brother, despite the fact that he's 2-1/2 years younger. And he has replaced Chad in the sarcasm department. Woo-boy, he's a pistol lately and it's no fun to come down hard on him but I have to. I refuse to let him grow up rude - know what I mean? Any one out there want to offer some helpful teen tips on this subject? I love my kids too much to raise them badly. I actually told my kids the other day that they are not to repeat my mistakes but to learn from them. Not sure they believed me on that one!

Seriously, though, nearly every day I am so thankful for my kids, who they are and how they act. They have been especially annoying since school ended (for some reason) but all in all, they really are not that much trouble. Especially compared to what I see and hear all around us.

Todd has been busy getting various jobs out of the way with our house. There is so much he wants to do and only so much time. He and the kids moved Chad downstairs into our finished basement, so now the boys each have their own room. I think they secretly miss each other but won't admit it. They have both enjoyed getting their rooms the way they want them and they'll be painting Alex's room soon.

Well, I just came home from getting my yearly mammogram (have you had yours yet this year??) and I'm off to do more laundry. And lift some weights.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

She Wore A Dress!

Curious about the title? Yes/No? I'll get to that.

My father-in-law turned 80 last week and they had a big bash yesterday at his home to celebrate, including all their musician friends (and families) and their various musical instruments. Bob, the birthday boy, plays trombone in our local symphony, and is a member of a tuba quartet that is well known in these parts. The live music was loud, constant and varied. There was even an accordion player who played a polka and one couple couldn't help but dance. It was an unusually warm day for the coast but we try not to complain about nice weather especially for a party that was held primarily outdoors. It was difficult to talk sitting in front of the horn section but when I looked at Bob, he was smiling and looking around at everyone. I knew he was having a good time.

Now, I spent the last few days figuring out what everyone was going to wear to this party. My daughter, Carmen, is not usually inclined to wear a dress but I was planning to wear one myself so I thought I would just suggest that she try on the dresses she had in her closet to see if they still fit. She agreed without any fuss, even seemed a bit eager. I hid my inner joy. We put together an outfit for her with a pink t-shirt, a brown print sundress and leggings (to keep her legs warm). The sundress needed the t-shirt because it seldom gets warm enough here to go sleeveless, at least for Carmen and me. Anyway, she really liked her outfit and looked so cute in it. Now for shoes. Oops. She had outgrown her nice flats. Out we went to find shoes that fit and went with the dress. She is at a funny size right now, not yet in adults sizes but too big for little girl shoes. After trying on about 20 pairs of shoes (all on clearance, thankfully) we found some that fit her perfectly and she loved. Then we found some pink sparkly socks when she also loved. We were both very happy!

It all brought me right back to being a young girl, getting ready for an event and having to run out at the last minute to find something needed to complete an outfit (usually shoes!) It was almost surreal. One of those Mom moments, you know?

After the party, Carmen didn't want to change into play clothes and that was fine with me. I thought it was so cool that she was enjoying wearing a dress. Why is this so important to me? Because my daughter spends her day with older brothers and is a sweat shirt/sweat pants person, usually. Seeing her in a dress and liking it was fun and special. I want her to enjoy the fun of being feminine, like I do, and that doesn't always mean ruffles and bows. It means feeling good in what you are wearing and how you look. Nothing wrong with looking nice, considering how I see a lot of people dress these days.

So, perhaps there will be more dresses in Carmen's future, worn without complaint or pouting (as in the past). My little girl is growing up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Call this "Kate In Summer". Irish blood runs thick in my veins, which means lots of reddish blonde. I'll gradually go darker but for now, this is me. Photo courtesy of Todd. And, yes, Cristina, I am having more fun. I dare you to try it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don't Laugh

I've gone blonde.

And it's weird.

I had been thinking that I wanted to go a little lighter for the summer, you know, a bit of a change. And it is a change, no doubt about that.

At the risk of blaming my husband, it was actually his idea. And he loves it. My kids all have mixed reactions. I'm still not sure. But there's not much I can do about it right now. It's only been a few days. We'll tone it down the next time we color it (Todd does this for me, bless him.) I think I've processed my hair enough for the time being. Let it rest.

If I'm feeling brave, I'll post a photo (if anyone actually cares, that is!) If anyone asks, I've decided to say that I've gone back to my natural color. I won't mention that this was my natural color when I was 16 years old.

Like I said, it's weird.

Other than that, we've just been busy. School throughout the month of June and then our summer break. The kids want to be done but we started a month late last year. Besides, with all the rainy weather we're having, staying indoors isn't so bad. Most of the time. Especially when I'm still a bit shy about my hair. Not looking forward to my mother-in-law's comments, we'll be seeing her in a few weeks. I'll just smile and change the subject. I'll bet my father-in-law will like it, though.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kate At 48

Happy Birthday to me. My birthday landed on Mother's Day this year so we packed up the kids and headed to Leavenworth, WA, once again. We stayed two days and had beautiful weather except for the freak shower that hit just as we arrived - we must have dragged it along with us for 6 hours from the coast. Waking up to the beauty of Wedge Mountain gleaming in the sun ... what a gift! At no other time can I wake up at 5:30 so refreshed. I wish I could take that snow capped peak home with me. The word of the day on the opening page of my computer today was "alpenglow" which means the red glow on mountain tops at sunrise and sunset. I was thinking about that glow when I turned on the computer this morning and now I can put a name to it. We shopped, played golf on the hotel's mini green, used all the hotel's recreational facilities, enjoyed the terrific breakfast. And, as always, we looked for land to buy "someday". Two days of putting real life on hold - fabulous. A perfect birthday and Mother's Day gift (Thanks, Todd!) The kids slept well this time - an absolute first! They have difficulty getting to sleep at hotels but I guess they are growing up. I love my family.

When I got home, I found out that I was going to be on the front page of the Business section of the Oregonian newspaper. No, not because of my birthday. I've been trying to resolve a telephone issue for the past year and I finally contacted a writer who does a column called, "The Complaint Desk" to help frustrated consumers. Boy, that was where I was at, for sure. She was instrumental in getting this phone issue resolved and she ran the column yesterday. She also posted it on their blog, which (if you are interested) you can take a look at here.

I was so happy to have this issue resolved, I hadn't really thought about this story being printed. She quoted some of my conversation with her and Todd took the photo that they used. It's hard for me to see myself in print (too critical, you know!) but, really, no one cares. My kids are very excited to see their Mom in the newspaper and Todd is also excited a photo he took got published. I am happy all around and very much appreciate this lady's help. I love her column. Hopefully, this phone issue will not return.

All in all, it's been a busy week!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Let's Rewind A Bit - Wedding Thoughts

I want to move on from that last post.

The Royal Wedding! This was one of those times I wish we could have TV only when we want it. I would have loved to have watched the coverage of the wedding. I listened to the BBC on radio and scanned newspapers and the Internet for coverage. I think this couple is so adorable - he is SO taken with her, it's sweet! That's what it looks like to me, anyway. Of course, I loved her dress, it was perfect for her and appropriate for the setting. I love how these two are playful, not stiff and stuffy. I hope they enjoyed their special day (weekend, really) and wish them all the best. This wedding came at a time when we needed a good diversion from the woes of the world.

I can think of many times in my life where I was glued to the TV for coverage of something. It's been 13 years since we've done that. When we find ourselves glued to the radio for coverage (like when we had the tsunami warnings after the Japan earthquake) it's a bit different. When you just have to listen, you can still function. Only one sense is being used. When the TV is on, no one moves. You really are stuck to the screen. I think I prefer the radio.

Of course, last night we were glued to the radio listening to coverage of a different topic. Everyone just stopped what they were doing and we all stared at each other in disbelief. Well, Carmen was clueless which is good. But Alec knew what was going on. We also have talked about how we do not celebrate the death of anyone, which I think is important, but how the consequences of someone's actions can lead to death. Geez, it's been a busy weekend!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

OBL is dead.

It's 10:00 p.m. and we are listening to the radio special news. I wish I was in NYC right now, hugging policemen. We are amazed and still not quite believing that this man responsible for so much suffering is dead. I can't say I feel like celebrating really, just feel relief that he can no longer hurt anyone. I got out my diary from 9/11 and read what I had written back then. You know, I actually prayed for this person before I knew who they were? And now, I just wrote that he is dead. End of story.

We are hearing how NYC crowds are gathering together, it's after midnight there. I wish I could be there, too. I hugged my sons when I heard the news. We just happened to turn the radio on briefly when we heard someone saying that people were cheering and crying. What? Then we heard why. I really don't want to include his name in this post, I don't want it on my blog. But he is dead. Let's hope there will never be another one like him. Praise God that no American was hurt in the attack and the mission was successful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

End Of April Blues

Easter was a nice day, inside anyway. The weather is still cold/windy/heavily raining. Todd and I went for a walk during what looked like a break but I was so cold in the wind it wasn't much fun. I'm such a baby!

However, all my daffodils are now in bloom and my courtyard looks beautiful! Todd and the boys took out some pine bush-like trees at the end of the courtyard, which makes my view out the kitchen window even better. Somehow, the daffodils stay standing even in torrential rain and wind. When we first moved here, I worried about the daffodils being pummeled but they always survive. We even had a pink tulip appear - sometimes we get tulips, sometimes we don't. Todd has a landscape plan for the courtyard and it's nice for him to be able to do a bit of work toward that. He's still working long hours at the heart doctor's office but he doesn't seem to mind. It's so much better than what he was doing before.

So, who's going to be watching the wedding? Please tell me about it - I'll only get to see the photos. I hope they have good weather for their special day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

“He is not here; He has risen!” Luke 24:6a

This is what the angel told the women who went to Jesus' tomb. It was also the memory verse I gave my kids this week. Don't you love it - Jesus lives!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Won!

Well, what do you know? I won a contest! Rachel at southseaislandhome had a stamp giveaway that I just had to enter. The stamps are commemorating the royal wedding (you know, THE royal wedding!) and I thought our family would enjoy them, especially Chad. I was so happy when Rachel named me the winner. It's been a tough week for me - this was really a day brightener! Thanks Rachel!

Rachel lives in New Zealand, a land near to my heart (Todd's too). Stop by and visit her blog!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our First Daffodil of 2011

We have one daffodil in bloom! It is so beautiful. All the others want so badly to fully come up but, alas, we have had two days straight of sideways rain, unrelenting wind and gray skies. That sideways rain is REALLY annoying me this year. I don't know why. I'm so tired of seeing it out my kitchen window, as I do dishes. My son said, simply, "Don't look at it." Hmph. Easier said than done. But ...

This post was going to be a rant (seems I'm annoyed at a lot of little things this week) until I read Sue in Japan's post. Now, how can I possibly complain about life's little daggers when she's over there, an ocean away, dealing with relocation, future decisions, being apart from her husband, etc. Her post talks about their situation but also lists her blessings. What a great focus and a reminder to me that I have NOTHING to complain about! Thanks for that gentle nudge, Lord!

So, if I'm not going to complain, how can I redirect this post? O.k., I'm happy that I'm able to post this morning. It's been tough trying to make time to blog/comment. My husband doesn't get home from work until 7 or 8, so I do like two dinners every night, then we have coffee (our daily bonding time) then it's dishes, read to Carmen, and bed time. Morning seems to be the only time for me on the computer and I feel guilty, like I should be doing something more important. For now, I will try to take a few mornings a week, that should be enough to do what I need to do and not feel like I'm neglecting other things. I miss keeping up on my friends' blogs!

Chad has starting playing euphonium again. A blessing (for him) and a curse for us with ears. Practice can be, um, painful. He makes up for it with his continued piano practice, which is lovely. Carmen has refused to pick up her recorder or try any other instrument. Sigh. That girl. I don't know. She's a puzzle. It's not required that all of our children play an instrument but we feel it's an important learning skill. Suggestions, anyone?

So, I will try not to look at the sideways rain today. I'll look at the lovely daffodil, proudly facing my window. Nice of it to do that instead of facing the street. I do need to drive Chad across the Columbia River over to Ilwaco (the tiny town in WA that houses the museum he works in) but I'll try to focus on the car ahead of me and not the rain. Sometimes the weather is different over there - who knows, maybe the sun will show its face! One can hope.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daffodils (almost) and Mysteries

Spring is trying to make its appearance, in the form of daffodils pushing up their slender leaves through the soil, refusing to bow down to the torrents of rain and wind.

Rain ... rain ... wind ... rain ... thunder/lightening ... wind ... oh, yes, and hail

Yes, this is springtime where I live. Today we felt the air wasn't quite so biting cold, even with a high of 50 degrees. However, the night sky was beautiful. Pink sunset, fluffy clouds. And then, 2 planets, the Dog star and Orion in all its glory. Followed by more rain.

All this is an attempt to distract me from what I've been listening to on the radio. As well as daily life annoyances/difficulties. Keep looking at the daffodils, they show courage in the face of adversity.

A bright spot ... my kids were happy to receive a shipment of Boxcar Children books that arrived a few days ago. We all enjoy reading these little mystery stories. I still read to Carmen every night and had been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder for years. We recently switched to Boxcar Children which is good as it broadens her reading horizons. A bit sad as I miss Laura just a little. But, really, I'm happy to read something I haven't memorized! These books are fun and easy reading. And there are a lot of them. I'm afraid the kids will want us to order more when these have been read! A box of books is a great way to perk up an otherwise cold and dark, rainy day. Nicely timed!

In addition: Please pray for Sue and her family, in Japan. They have left their home for a safer place, as they feel they are in danger. Pray that her husband can join them soon. Pray for their safety. Please, also, pray for the people of Japan. Thanks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

We Are Fine

The tsunami warnings ran all day but our town wasn't told to evacuate. The towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach (15 and 25 miles south) were evacuated, however, and that was where all the focus was. Schools were closed to act as shelters. People were awakened at 2:00 a.m. by neighbors and local officials, knocking on doors to spread the news. These coastal communities had full tsunami training and practice just a few years ago - what terrific timing! Everything went very well, lots of tired people at the end of the day I'm sure. I am very thankful that nothing happened in our area. There was damage to the southern OR coast and down parts of the CA coast, however. Minor, compared to Japan.

We were very saddened by the news we were hearing all day on the radio. Prayed all day for a blog friend in Japan, found out just now (nearly midnight) that she and her family are fine. Please pray for Japan.

I'll tell you how we found out about the earthquake. Once a week, a Portland cardiologist drives out here to the coast to work in the office Todd works in (Todd's usual cardiologist works just 4 days/week.) Todd got a call from his boss in Portland, saying that this visiting physician wasn't coming due to the tsunami alert. What? We turned on the radio and listened to local news alternating with national news. It took awhile to get the whole story. So, Todd got the day off. An unexpected blessing, since he's been putting in 10-hr days for the last couple of weeks. He ended up taking our boys to the orthodontist for me, only to return home because the office was closed - again, due to the tsunami alert.

So, what do we do with our day? Of course, we head over to an estate sale that we learned of due to the people driving up and down our street, looking for the right address which is nearly impossible in our extremely old town with crazy streets that begin and end at random (now, there's a sentence for you.) Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies and the town kind of spreads out over a peninsula and up and down the hills.

Later, I had to drive Chad to his volunteer job at the museum over the river and into another coastal community in south Washington state. Like in other coastal towns, the tsunami evac route signs are posted along the main street - these signs took on new meaning for me today. We called ahead to make sure the museum was open, just in case. While crossing the 4-1/2 mile bridge over the river, we both studied the place where the river and the bay converge (called the bar) and meets the ocean, about 10 miles away. Did the tide look lower than normal? Who knows.

Oh, Alec got his top row of braces put on last week. He has had discomfort but is so excited to see his front teeth already beginning to line up. He's really proud and excited - we are excited, too. He'll have to wait to get the bottom braces on, since the office was closed today. I'm sure he didn't mind too much!

Thanks for thinking of us today. Chad got a bit frightened, thinking our area would be hit by an earthquake, too. We did a lot of talking. I told him to talk with the people at the museum about where one should go during an earthquake. I said that all you can do is try your best to be prepared and then sort of forget about it. Ignorance breeds fear, is what I like to say. I grew up in Southern California where earthquakes were part of our lives. I NEVER got used to them and shook with fear whenever we had one. It was awful. I was so glad to move up here where earthquakes were not so common. And do you know, just a couple of weeks after our move, we had an earthquake here? I couldn't believe it! Since then, I think there have only been two that I've felt but they've been talking about a "big one" for years. You can't sit and worry about it. It's hard to comfort a child (or a teen) sometimes but I did my best and reminded him that God is always with us, no matter what. No matter what.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Well, it looks as if I've taken to blogging once a month. Besides other more pressing matters keeping me away from the computer, I find myself, once again, uninspired to write. Except ... a few days ago (maybe, Friday) after I waved goodbye to my husband as he headed up the hill toward town. I stood looking out the kitchen window, marveling at the snow that covered the ground. And the trees. And the rooftops. It was so pretty, I found myself describing the scene in my head. Words! An idea! I almost ran to turn on the computer but, alas, I needed to get ready for the day. I was hoping I could remember my thoughts at a later time but I could not.

I grow weary of simply recording the events of our lives. Yes, it's important to me to remember these times, knowing how quickly my kids grow. But I want more from my writing. I must remind myself that there is a season for all things. This is the season of growing and teaching my kids, of watching my husband blossoming in a new position in the medical field, a position important to the community. A time of wondering how much longer I'll have my mom around to talk on the phone with. And me, approaching (and probably beginning) the stage of life that cruelly reminds us our child-bearing years will end someday soon. Not that I want more kids but it's still nice to know I possibly could.

I love pushing "Check Spelling" and having it tell me "No misspellings found". Something I'd love to tell my high school typing teacher. Boy, she was sure an inspiration. She was to be feared. I totally respected her. In my yearbook, she wrote, "You have a talent that will serve you well", speaking of my typing skills. I never was able to tell her just how prophetic her words were. Typing was my life for years, and I owed her a great deal for that.

Who have you inspired? Think about it. It could be years ago or yesterday. Or tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thankful in February

February ... Todd's new job has been going very well. We are so happy for him! He is a different man. And we love having him home every night. We are so thankful.

Alec had a nice birthday on the last day of January. Carmen's birthday was last Sunday and her day was nice, too. Valentine's Day always gets tucked in behind her birthday but we somehow manage to show a little more love to each other around here on the 14th.

So, all the birthdays are done (for now) and we are all adjusting to Todd's new schedule ... well, sometimes I'm still surprised to see him come home for lunch which he can now do one or two days a week. Next on my agenda is taxes (yikes!) and Alec will be getting braces put on near the end of the month.

I'm kind of weird in that I actually enjoy doing my taxes although I hate them at the same time. I love research and that is essentially how I view completing my tax forms. I have a good tax program to use which has made things much easier than it used to be. Back when we had our own business and had renters in a second home, it was a lot of work. Now it almost seems like I haven't done enough when everything is complete.

Enough about taxes. My baby is 10 - that is so amazing to me. And for Alec to be 13 is hard to believe. When I see my boys together, they look so tall - giants! When I look around at the dinner table, I am so thankful for my family. It's one of those "How did I get here?" moments.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More About January

I was hoping January would be a month of rest, after all the holiday business. What WAS I thinking?!

Alec's birthday is at the very end of the month which means I need to order his gifts early enough to get here. Right after Christmas, the last thing I want to do is buy more stuff! Our shopping is limited where we live so online is the way to go, especially since he has such eclectic interests. Carmen's birthday follows two weeks later so I generally try to get all the shopping done at the same time. She says she really doesn't need anything which is fine but on her birthday, I'm sure she'll want to open something!

Adding to this is the reality that my husband has gotten himself a new job. Yes! It's true! The story is long about all the twists and turns of life at our local hospital. My son, Chad, and I are seriously thinking of writing a book about all the nonsense (we'll change the names of the victims, naturally). Chad has a great title for it. Anyway, Todd has finally been freed of it all and starts his new job on Alec's birthday (great timing!) Sadly, he has to spend two days of training in Portland on Alec's birthday and the day after, which is a bummer for us but we are so happy for Todd that it doesn't really matter.

He applied for this job back before Christmas. They said they would begin the interview process after the first of the year. It was hard to wait, and wait, but then they called to say he was one of the finalists. We waited two more days and (drum roll, please) they called to say, "You're the winner!!"

Not really, but that's what it felt like. When Todd came into the kitchen, after that phone call, I looked at him, dying of curiosity. All the kids ran in to hear the news. Then he said he got the job! It took a bit to sink in. And then tears (me, not Todd!) We are all so happy for him. Looking forward to a normal schedule for him and us. No more nights or weekend work. Finally. Praise the Lord!

I really kept this job in God's hands. I just kept praying for God's will. If it wasn't what was best for Todd or our family, then so be it. But I'm so glad God answered our prayers the way he did. I'm very proud of Todd. It's a new position with a new heart doc in our area, part of a huge hospital network so there is security in that. Once you get into a hospital system, you can transfer easier to other hospitals in that network which would be helpful if we move in the future. It's a blessing.

And, of course, a new job calls for new scrubs. That's the fun part for me! Too bad Boden (see last post) doesn't make nurse's scrubs!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Well, it's a new year. The Christmas decorations are put away, the house is back to normal, our school schedule has begun again. And the rain has come.

Just a normal beginning to a Northwest January.

At least we are not freezing and there are no weather delays in these parts. We are expecting some snow this weekend but probably nothing much, if any. I appreciate living where I do in the winter, raining or not. The older I get, the less I can take freezing temps. Oh, sure, if I gained perhaps 30 pounds, I might be able to keep warm but I'm not that desperate. I just wish they made more fashionable Arctic clothing. Todd prefers to see me in sweaters but, darn it, it's hard to find women's clothing that is warm enough for me without making me look frumpy. I've been saying this for years: They make men's clothing warm, well-sewn and long-lasting. Always. Women's clothing isn't meant to last long or be warm. I'm sure there are exceptions but I probably can't afford them. Well ... wait a minute. Todd did buy me a yak sweater from a German company for Christmas. It was made in Mongolia of undyed yak wool. It's beautiful browns, striped on one side and reverses to an interesting weave on the other. A hat and scarf came with it. And it is warm and beautiful. It sheds like a yak would but that's no surprise. However ... we can't afford to have a drawer full of yak sweaters. Now I know how those Mongolians survive those cold winters.

So, o.k., MOST women's clothing isn't warm or made very well. Even Boden (sorry Johnny) tends to wear out after a few washings on delicate with delicate soap and lay flat to dry care. If you don't know about Boden, Johnny Boden is the humorous owner and spokesman for his British clothing company of fabulous clothing and great catalogs. I love them but I wish they lasted longer. Perhaps I wear them too much. They are worth every penny, though. Boden clothing makes me feel young and pretty. Eddie Bauer clothing (Seattle, Washington origin) is actually made better (most of the time) but it's more Northwestern type stuff - flannel, hike-worthy, rugged stuff. Definitely different from the Boden London style. I like them both, depending on my mood. Does anyone care about any of this?

Sorry, I've completely forgotten why I sat down to write except that I knew I needed to move on beyond my Christmas post. Hope I didn't keep you from something vastly more important!

Happy New Year!